Monday, November 11, 2013

Evolution of a Wardrobe

Our coats were made by Mom

Mom made a few items of clothing for my brother and me when we were preschoolers. Because she wasn't employed, and our two bedroom house was small, and Dad wrote the household checks for the mortgage, utilities, and insurance; she had time. Life wasn't easier for her as a wife and new mother, but certainly simpler in comparison to the lives of many women today.

Judging from childhood pictures, Mom had taste in clothing. The holiday and birthday photos show us fashionably dressed, yet still ordinary. She was very practical, though, believing it was a waste to buy so many clothes that we would quickly grow out of; plus, the funds were limited. So each season, she bought a small amount of clothing for us. In the summer, I got 5 or 6 shorts and top sets, Keds tennis shoes and sandals. Two or three dresses were rotated for church, and that was it.

During the school season, it was even less because I wore uniforms to the Catholic school I attended. Shoes were our major challenge due to my hard-to-fit, long, narrow feet that seemed to grow fast and require new shoes often. I was told that I had expensive feet because only the expensive store carried narrow shoes. Mom was happy to see them stop growing when I was in 6th grade. (I still like well-made shoes.)

The stage was set for my lifelong attitude toward clothes. I've always liked stylish clothes, but I've never been over the top trendy or adorned with accessories on every member of my body. During my teens, my cousins used to call me, “plain.” They didn't leave the house without hair and makeup done, a ring, bracelet, and necklace, toe and finger nails painted, and dazzling footwear. The cousins were not plain.

Me… I managed some of those accoutrements when I felt the need to spruce up. On a few occasions, I’d actually do the “works” and present an impressive package.

My twenties were my clothes crazy days—if you can call it that. The career had me excited about suits and high heel shoes until the corporations began “Casual Fridays” that put me back in my jeans and khakis. As employees who worked behind the scene, my coworkers and I had a revelation: we didn't need to dress up, therefore, eventually we made every day a “casual” day.

So much for my stint as a fashion girl.  Evolution came to a halt.

Children took my wardrobe downhill. Wearing a necklace—what was that? Something for my kids to yank off as they hung on to me for dear life saying, “Don’t put me down Mommy. I don’t want to walk!”

A nice blouse? Somehow it always ended up with a grease stain; the culprit possibly a chicken nugget or a french fry from a Happy Meal.

Sooo… I settled into my “Mom Uniform,” composed of shorts, tee shirts, athletic wear, jeans, simple shirts, tennis shoes, and clogs/mules. Nice and comfy.

During that time, a friend of mine stopped by my house wearing her career-wear that included a scarf. It was an aha moment for me; that I’m looking a bit, uhh, plain. I was even inspired to write a blog post about it; however, I still stuck with my nice and comfy attire.

But NOW… I've had another revelation! After exercising with a couple friends at one of their homes, Pam shows Katie and me some of her latest shopping finds—a studded belt, shirts that have the wrap-around look, and a bold necklace. As we’re oooing and aahing, my thoughts travel to how Pam and Katie (a decade younger than me, give or take) look when I see them out and about. They are stylish, but not overdone.

As we talk, I tell them that I like shirts with prints and that I have a hard time finding ones that are not old-ladyish. Of course, they jump right in and tell me that solids are more available and that I need to wear scarves.

A scarf… there it is again… the savior… the essential outfit enhancer.

I know this. It does make an outfit look good. My daughters wear them. They've even stolen one from me that I bought last year. It’s time to give in. I can endure the extra warmth around my neck.

So what did I do while in Macy’s returning an unwanted jacket for my daughter? I bought a scarf. (On sale of course, and with a coupon.)

I like it.

My New Scarf

The dress form belongs to my daughter, Girl #1. It’s what she wanted for Christmas, so Voila!
She named it Charlotte.

Epilogue: My style of dress has never dramatically changed; however, each phase of my life that presents a different look correlates to my lifestyle and age. My life as a series of pie graphs would show the 1995–2006 pie with the “Mom” slice holding strong at 75%, “Wife” at 20%, and “Anita” at 5%. On my 2013 pie, “Anita” has cruised up to 25%--which is why I might buy a few scarves and some fun jewelry for every day wear and not just for times when I have to dress up.

How do you like to dress? Are stylish clothes in your closet? What do your clothes say about you and do they reflect who you truly are?


Mari said...

I would say that you and I are quite similar, both in the way we dressed as kids to the way I dress now. I have to wear scrubs at work which are definitely not fashionable, but once a week when I work with the Dr I get to wear nice clothes. I'm a fan of scarves and try to wear them when I dress up. However - Jeans and a top are my most common at home wear.

Linda Hensley said...

I go for comfort whenever possible, but I have to dress better for work. Once in a long while I might put on a necklace or a ring. My mom used to make clothes for us too, but my mom was completely about cheap and durable. Hideous. I think I'm scarred for life.

joeh said...

I had to wear a suit everyday for 30 years until casual became of for those of us behind the scene.

Now I have three suits, one for winter weddings or funerals, one for summer weddings or funerals, and one for my final viewing.

Shelly said...

Your mom was certainly a talented seamstress! Love those old pics. I can identify with your evolution because mine mirrors it. And my 17 year old has a dress form, too, also a present! I would never have thought to ask for one. We are loving scarves, even down here where it's mostly warm-

Rob-bear said...

Your mom was, indeed, a very talented woman.

Me. Today. In retirement. I have a couple of plain sweat pants, and lots of t-shirts. I do not have a suit that fits me (I've outgrown the ones that did). I have a pair of casual pants, and a couple of pair of dress pants and a couple of dress shits. Since I rarely go anywhere (other than church), this suits me just fine. Which is to say that my " business" wardrobe has evolved into a "relaxed" wardrobe. Which works well when doing things around the house, especially with grandchildren.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Linda said...

I dress for comfort. I cannot wear wool, as it makes me itchy so I prefer to dress myself on cold days with polar wear. I love it! It is warm, it is comfortable and easy to care for and it looks nice.

Great post, Anita, and I love the photos!

Mage said...

Great scarves and fun necklaces can be found at Target and thrift stores. I saw a whole corner with fun stuff at Ross dress for yes yesterday.

Yes, I'm like your friends. Solid colors most of the time with patterned scarves. :)

Unknown said...

My wardrobe is pretty boring. I wear capris, jeans, and I have a few dress slacks and nicer tops. Mostly I wear tees and pull over tops. In FL winter I wear cardigan sweaters. Scarves make me hot!! My 3 kids have enough clothes to go weeks without wearing twice, well at least in shirts.
I need a makeover, I was a former clothes horse, worked in fashion retail and had lots of clothes and shoes. Where did my style go?

Great post!!

Barb said...

My closet definitely doesn't say Ohhh-la-la, Barb! I got rid of so much clothing during my paring down phase of the remodel. Now I can readily see all my pairs of BLACK pants! I may have enough black to last me the rest of my life. I do like scarves and use them (with the black) to add a bit of color and cover the wrinkles on my neck. I don't even wear much makeup anymore - old ladies start to look severe with too much color. Some people manage to look stylish in workout clothes. That's what I tell myself anyway. I love the old pics!

myletterstoemily said...

This is such a fun fashion story! Like
you, i tend to want to wear comfortable
clothes . . . and am accused of putting
on my jammies too frequently.

SO, I make a point of putting on the
ritz a couple times a week. And then
race home to put on my jammies. :)

Your scarf is lovely. Could you show
us a pic with you in it.

yonca said...

I love scarves too and your new scarf is beautiful.Nice color combination. Ohh..your mom made your coats? They look great! My mom used to sew too. Especially our dresses(3 girls!)I don't have the sewing talent. Maybe I've never wanted to learn.That's why.
I don't know how but I always get coffee or tea stains on my

Hilary said...

I can certainly relate to much of this, right down to the usage of scarves. That's a new thing for me too. And I bought one which looks very much like the one you posted here. At some point, I watched a few episodes of What Not to Wear and started accessorizing and upgrading my clothes a wee bit. It felt good to do so. Though as I look down at what I'm wearing today, I see that I've slipped off into the plain wagon again. ;)

Buckeroomama said...

I tend to go for more classic lines and styles, occasionally spicing things up a bit with a bit of color play. Beyond earrings and my rings (which I wear 24/7), I don't usually wear much jewelry. My taste leans more toward smart casual.

Abby said...

I want a makeover!

My style, such as it is, is usually just whatever's practical. So I find myself wearing the mom uniform a lot of the time. When I dress the way I want to, I think my style is "younger" than most other women my age. Skinny jeans, relatively flat shoes...

Scarves, yeah. I like that idea! Gonna go purge my closet now!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I just cleared out my closet and discovered there was a time when I dressed nicely. Beautiful dresses and skirts. Actual outfits.

Nowadays, my favorite attire is gym short in the summer and gym pants in the winter. Tshirts. And a sports bra in case someone comes by or I have to venture outside. (Would rather go braless.) I'm a slob. Had to laugh - I remember the days of wearing what my kids ate.

For teaching school, I have a new uniform. Solid color long sleeved shirts and... scarves. Tied several different times, several different ways throughout the day. Depending on the current hot flash.

fsmum said...

I think scarves definitely look great and can really make an outfit. Somehow they don't seem to work for me though. I really don't know why.